The Villain in My Own Story

“Trusting in so much
That’s not worth trusting in
The person she’s now
Meets who she could’ve been.
There are two roads to travel
She chose the wrong one
Now there’s no going back
What’s done is done.”

The first time I read those words in Anne Jackson’s Permission to Speak Freely, they broke a more hopeful heart. A heart that believed in fresh new pages with every sunrise. Today, they still break my heart, but I don’t rage against the truth of them as surely as I did then.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

God, I don’t even know who I could have been. Can hardly remember who I was. And I am trying so very hard not to think of what I am today—the villain in my own story.

I come before You wielding my anger like knives, my discontent as katanas. But when I stand before You in all my glorious rage, You don’t reach for Your weapons. You make no move to defend Yourself against my deadly advances.

It’s like that scene from The Mask of Zorro when the teacher instructs the pupil to choose his weapon, and Alejandro spins around, sword in hand, to find De La Vega holding a spoon.

A spoon.

Just like Alejandro, my anger morphs into confusion.

I came here to wage war and You are extending a dinner invitation.

And I know what will happen should I choose to sit down. You’ll tell me how You know I chose the wrong path. You’ll tell me how long You’ve been waiting for me to come home. You’ll tell me it’s high time I stop Taylor Swifting my way through life, because the lyrics You’ve written fit me better than Taylor’s ever could.

You’ll tell me redemption is only a heartbeat away, should I choose to accept it.

That’s where this whole plan breaks down—in the accepting. Because I am tired of blindly accepting things. Tired of being the observer in my own story. Tired of being the duty-fulfiller and the girl who simply does what needs to be done.

I sense You smile at that confession. You’ve been waiting so very long for me to stop merely drifting through life. My rebellion is a spark that might make You proud if I would only learn to rebel against the proper things.

I’m a little misguided, a little bit lost. And I am far from ready to release this spark that has led me astray.

Anne Jackson was wrong. It’s not that there is no going back; it’s that it is so very hard to find the willpower to turn around when the desire is still rooted this deep.

I would ask You to rescue me, but that would make me too much of a damsel in distress. I’d rather find my way back on my own.

You can leave the light on, though. Maybe sprinkle the path with bread crumbs, so I can pretend I’m the big, strong girl who can navigate the woods on her own, even though I know You are there, waiting in the shadows, bringing me from lost to found.

But that’s my pride talking. That’s the part of me that wants to go on pretending I am strong enough without You. So if we are going to get this right, you should probably come out of the shadows and take me by the hand so we can walk this path together.

And when I feel like looking back over my shoulder, squeeze my hand a little tighter to remind me that You’re there. Leading me out of the woods. Into the light. Guiding me home.

The Night We Lit Up the World

I recently read a book called Permission to Speak Freely, which may explain some of the recent posts/conversations/letters I’ve been writing. There was a lot of the book that I disagreed with. A lot of things didn’t resonate with me or sit well in my stomach at all. But I loved the principal of it. I loved the idea that we all need to be a little bit more vulnerable. We all need permission to speak freely.

But one of the quotes that really struck me wasn’t about speaking freely at all. Toward the end of the book, the author quotes a friend saying, “As we grow up, we learn a great deal about the mysteries that perplexed us when we were small. We learn that the sun doesn’t go to bed after all. Our earth just turns away from her for a bit. The stars that look like diamonds sparkling in the sky are really nasty balls of flaming gas. And bit by bit, we surrender the magic that was our constant companion.”

I stared at those words. Blinked a few times. And then I dared to ask why. What’s wrong with believing in sleepy suns and skies filled with diamonds? What’s wrong with holding onto magic?

And I know I talk all the time about embracing magic and wonder and living that childlike faith that Jesus told His disciples they must have. It’s because I believe in it. I believe in letting yourself be awed by things that others may try to reason away.

Last week I spent an evening with two, beautiful preschoolers who introduced me to the magic of glow sand. We walked outside with our containers of blue and green and yellow and orange, sprinkling it across the ground until you would have believed that fairies had been dancing there.

The world was filled with wonder. The yard was aglow with pixie dust. I had it on my hands and in my hair and even between my toes. We laughed and we danced and we felt we could fly. It was magical. Absolutely magical.

But when you think about it, it was just sand. Gritty, dirty sand that would, in four hours, lose its sparkle. Like Cinderella’s carriage turning back into a pumpkin, the magic would be gone. And I would be in desperate need of a shower.

Most people might have considered that before they threw it in their hair. Most people might have been content to let the sand spill out on the ground, lighting up the night for a moment only to be forever lost to the world when morning came around. And you can probably bet that most people would not have sprinkled it over a friend’s shoulders while shouting, “Think happy thoughts!”

Because most people aren’t such big fans of Peter Pan and Neverland and all that “second star to the right and straight on ’til morning” nonsense. Most people, as it was quoted in Permission to Speak Freely, have bit by bit surrendered the magic that was our constant companion.

But I, for one, am not content to be one of those people.

I, for one, will continue to believe in suns that fall asleep and diamonds that sparkle in the night sky.

I, for one, will continue to light up the world with magic that glows only for a moment and wonder that dances forever in our hearts.

Because God never intended for us to lose our amazement. He never wanted us to walk through life scientifically explaining away the miracles He created.

No, I think He wanted us to live a little more like the children who kiss the sun goodnight and marvel at the endless amount of diamonds in the sky. I think He wanted us to hold onto wonder and light up the world with our belief that the world is magical after all.